Best All-Time NFL Rivalry
When it comes to the formation and development of truly intense and increasingly bitter rivalries in the world of professional sports, a twist on the old adage applies…"familiarity breeds contempt."
The best rivalries, those fueled by the most passion and venom, are typically based in the fact that these two teams play often, and in those meetings, usually both teams play hard, and both teams have some measure of success at one time or another.
Good rivalries do not necessarily have to involve teams that play in the same division, as long as they find themselves playing each other regularly, either through regular season schedule nuances, or in fact in the playoffs. A classic example of a rivalry that was built in the playoffs is the rivalry that developed in the early to mid 1990's between the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.
Both teams, widely considered to be the best in the NFL at the time, wanted the NFC's spot in the Super Bowl, and faced off in 3 consecutive NFC Championship Games with Dallas winning the first 2 before San Francisco finally avenged itself with a win third time around. A similar rivalry has developed in recent years between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL's American Football Conference (AFC), in which both of these 2 teams have been regarded as the best in the NFL and as such, always seem to run into each other en route to the Super Bowl.
Typically these rivalries involve divisional opposition. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find an NFL team who does not have at least one divisional opponent that it considers a significant rival. Some typical examples of good divisional rivalries that have been formed all time are the rivalries between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears (considered by many to be the best in the NFL), the rivalry between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles (bolstered not only because they are in the same division, but also by the fact that the stadiums that these two teams play in are barely two hours apart), and the rivalry between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals, which pits two in-state opponents.
To that end, I believe that the greatest NFL rivalry of all time is one that features two old school teams, two hard nosed teams, that have both had their fair share of historical success in the NFL. Both have some of the most passionate and devoted fans in the NFL (also essential to the development of a truly great rivalry), and both have had periods in which they were clearly the dominant member of the rivalry. That rivalry is the rivalry that exists between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys.
These two bitter NFC East rivals have faced off 96 times all time, and while the Cowboys have the all-time series edge, 56-38-2, these games are almost always extremely close, and often times, the lesser of the two teams plays its game of the year against the other, as was the case this season when the Redskins pulled off a 27-6 shocker against a Cowboys team that many considered one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the NFL at the time.
There have been so many great moments in the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry. Some of the best include Kenny Houston stopping Walt Garrison short of the goal line to save a Redskins Monday night win in '73; Clint Longley hitting Drew Pearson with a 50-yard TD bomb in the closing seconds of Skins-Boys game on Thanksgiving Day in '74; Darryl Grant's interception and TD to get the Skins the win in the 1982 NFC Championship game; or, Darrell Green running down Tony Dorsett from behind in another great Monday night game in '83.
The Redskins-Cowboys rivalry is full of so many great memories. It's really what NFL football is about - at its finest!
We think the '85 Chicago Bears were the best all-time professional football team. To find out why, visit Best All-Time Pro Football Team. And, the best player of all-time? How about Jim Brown? Check out Best Pro Football Player of All Time.
If you are interested in other great sports rivalries, you can also visit:
- Biggest All-Time College Football Rivalry
- Best All-Time SEC Football Rivalry Games
- Best All-Time Baseball Rivalry
- Best SEC Baseball Rivalry
- Best All-Time NBA Rivalry
- Biggest SEC Basketball Rivalry
- Biggest All-Time Tennis Rivalry
- Best Golf Rivalry of All-Time
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